Thursday, November 12, 2015

Tips and Tricks to Help You Save During the Holiday Season

The Holiday Season is upon us! Don’t worry – U.S. Eagle has your back. Check out these Holiday Tips to help you save during the Holiday Season.

  1. Budget, budget, budget. Before you map out your shopping route, grab a pen and paper, make yourself a cup of hot cocoa, and create a list of all the people you need to purchase a gift for. Once you make your list and check it twice, set a dollar amount for each person. Plan not to spend more than this amount. Extra credit: Write down some gift ideas for people on your list!
  2. Before braving the holiday crowds, do your research. Track down the Sunday paper and check out what’s on sale at your favorite shopping spot. Score some coupons using mobile apps like “RetailMeNot”, “Flipp”, and Target’s new “Cartwheel” app. Since we live in the Digital Age, take advantage of websites that price compare for you. Before you purchase something online, check out FreeShipping.Org and make sure you grab a free shipping code if it’s available! If possible, start your shopping early, saving it for the last minute tends to be an expensive and stressful adventure.
  3. Use cash! Prepare for your on-foot shopping adventure by making your first stop at your financial institution. Take out your total budgeted amount and keep it separate from other spending money. Taking this precaution will lessen the chances of you overspending. U.S. Eagle is offering an Instant Holiday Loan through the end of December. We can deposit the cash right in your account. No need to worry about overspending!
  4. Didn’t save for the holidays? Use plastic. I may be able to recommend one of the best credit cards around…U.S. Eagle has some of the lowest rates in the state! If you choose to go this route, make sure you don’t overspend. You’re more likely to spend more using a credit card instead of cash. Another tip, Skip-A-Pay at U.S. Eagle will give you some spending leeway this holiday season.
  5. If you’re extra tight on money this holiday season, DIY projects are usually inexpensive and allow you to be creative. You can also create in bulk. Sugar scrubs, homemade cookies, coupon books, candles, ceramic tile coasters, embroidered handkerchiefs, or hand designed mugs are a few gift ideas that are affordable, easy-to-do, and personable for this holiday season. Pinterest or a simple Google search will give you endless DIY ideas!
  6. If you plan on purchasing lots of gift cards, take advantage of e-cards. A lot of retailers offer gift cards you can purchase online and send to someone via email for little to no cost! Use to purchase gift cards at a discounted price. Personalization of your gift card is usually available on websites as well.
  7. If you’re a super shopper, plan on taking full advantage of offers on dreaded Black Friday and anticipated Cyber Monday. Prep yourself ahead of time, find the best discounts, map out shops in the city, and do your research. Beware – some of these “deals” are no better than shopping on a Tuesday or Sunday!
  8. If you’re worried about your bank account with the holidays approaching, find areas you can cut back. Driving past Starbucks instead of going to the drive-thru twice a week will save you around $40 per month. Making your lunches at home instead of dining out and ordering water when you do dine out, will help save you some money too.
  9. Enjoy free activities around town. If you’re short on money this holiday season, check out Christmas light displays with your loved ones. Pack up your family in the car, put some delicious hot chocolate in a jug, and see beautiful light displays. Some other ways you can afford holiday cheer are: gathering your friends and family for a Christmas caroling journey, volunteering at local shelters and charities, or hosting a Christmas potluck.
  10. Remember the reason for the season. Although a lot of stress may come with your holiday planning, remember your reason for celebrating. Spending time with family will always be more meaningful than presents. Volunteer some time at local charities and bake your neighbor some holiday cheer! Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

A Day in the Life of the Fraud Department…

Fast Facts:
- U.S. Eagle is the only Credit Union in the state with a dedicated, local Fraud Department
- Our Fraud Department has been safeguarding member information since 2008
- Our Fraud Department consists of three individuals who are constantly on the lookout for thieves trying to steal from our members

Q&A with Tina in our Fraud Department!
I wanted to put the spotlight on our Fraud Department for a month and let everyone know hard they work to protect our members. Today, we will be speaking with Tina who is our Lead Fraud Investigator. She has been an employee at U.S. Eagle for seventeen years and has been handling fraud claims for fifteen years. Let’s hear what she has to say about fraud!

Q: What does a typical day look like for the Lead Fraud Investigator?
Tina: Well, the main things I deal with on a daily basis are: check card disputes, speaking with members affected by fraud, and working with local law enforcement to prevent financial crime.

Q: What is your favorite part about working in the Fraud Department?
Tina: Helping our members who have fallen victim to fraud. I immediately seek to remedy the situation as well as educate them on how to prevent these awful scenarios from happening again. My goal is to turn a negative beginning into a positive ending.

Q: What is the most common type of fraud?
Tina: The most common type of fraud is check card fraud. Comprises of large corporations have really caused some members a lot of stress. My goal is take this stress away! Due to these compromises, our member’s card information is basically available online. Their card numbers can be purchased by thieves on the black market. Once purchased, the culprits will create a copy of the card and use it to make purchases.

Q: How will members know if their card is being compromised?
Tina: Members will notice purchases they did not make. Once they see these transactions take place, they should call us immediately to close their card. We will have them come down to any of our branches, fill out some paperwork and we will solve the issue as quickly as possible. Our call center may also provide assistance with fraud disputes as well. We will also reimburse the member the amount that was stolen from their account. In the end, U.S. Eagle actually becomes the victim because we will always reimburse our members.

Q: What’s a new type of fraud that you are witnessing?
Tina: Mail theft. Mail theft consists of thieves stealing physical checks from mailboxes. Once a check is in their possession, they steal the identity of our member, and cash checks. For example, let’s say a member pays their electric bill using a check and places the check in the mail. A thief will come to the mailbox, steal the check, create a driver’s license and a fictitious check using the information on the check, and go to a drive thru and attempt to cash or deposit the check.

Q: How can our members prevent fraudulent activity?
Tina: Members can protect themselves from fraud in a few ways. I recommend pulling your credit report once a year – it’s free and allows you to be aware of any suspicious activity that could potentially take place. Another way is utilizing online banking. Checking your account regularly ensures that the transactions are valid and that there is no suspicious activity taking place. Lastly, stay up to date with current events and maintain a healthy knowledge of potential fraudulent activity that could happen to anyone.

Q: Any last words of advice for our readers?
Tina: If you ever think you are a victim of fraud and or your account has been compromised always know that U.S. Eagle Federal Credit Union has a local fraud department that is here for you. The Fraud Department can be reached at 505-342-8871.


Thursday, August 6, 2015

5 Tips for the First Time Car Buyer

Congratulations! You’ve just graduated college. You landed a great entry level position making a salary of $33k. You live in an apartment with a friend from college. Life is good. You look outside your window and your beat-up old car with nearly 200,000 miles stares back at you. Driving to work every day is risky business as you anticipate the breakdown of your beloved first car from Mom and Dad. Now is the time to think about your first large purchase – a new vehicle. Whether you’re starting a new job or starting a new college class – car buying can be tricky. Before traveling down the road of car buying, safeguard yourself using these tips and tricks!

1. Get pre-qualified.
Now that you’re on your own, more expenses will occur. Know how much you can afford before purchasing a vehicle. Representatives at your local Credit Union can assist you with getting pre-qualified. This gives you an advantage because you know what vehicle you can afford and decreases the chance of overspending on a vehicle. The bigger the down payment the better! Why? This decreases your monthly payment and allows you to budget accordingly. If you do not have enough credit established, you may need a co-signer. A co-signer can be anyone with a good credit score, but typically your parents or other family will be able to sign on the loan. The average car loan is generally five to six years; the longer the loan period, the more you will pay in interest.

2. Prepare yourself and do your homework.
Before walking into a dealership, make sure you are prepared and have an idea of what you can afford and what type of vehicle you need. Do not rely on a salesman to educate you about their business. A salesman wants to make money, not save you money. Vehicles that are reliable, have great gas mileage, and fit into your budget seem like the obvious choice. The internet has an unlimited amount of resources available at your fingertips! Plan ahead before purchasing and take into account your current financial situation. Don’t forget to add in car insurance! Anticipate expenses that will accompany your new vehicle purchase such as: monthly car payment, insurance, gas, and any maintenance fees.

3. Take someone with you.
Just like you wouldn’t jump out of an airplane for the first time solo, it’s wise to take someone with car buying smarts along for your first vehicle purchase. An experienced car buyer can help you avoid the traps first time car buyers fall into.

4. New or used?
Getting pre-qualified will help you determine whether or not you can afford to purchase a new vehicle. A car or truck with some mileage is not a bad decision, especially when purchasing your first vehicle. If you are interested in purchasing a used vehicle, it is wise to take the car or truck to a mechanic for a second opinion. Do your due diligence and make sure you are getting the best deal for your money.

5. Have fun!
Buying a car or truck for the first time may seem like a stressful scenario, but it is an exciting opportunity to learn about an important process and come out with a sweet ride in the end! Do not forget to take your potential new vehicle for a spin! Get behind the wheel and make sure you like the way it drives. There are hundreds and hundreds of vehicles out there, pick the one that’s right for you and won’t break the bank.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Credit Unions Rock - Here's Why

Credit Unions Rock – Here’s Why:

I’ve been a member of U.S. Eagle Federal Credit Union since I was just a little Coyote Kid. Back when I joined at the ripe age of ten years old, I had absolutely no idea just how much Credit Unions rocked. Now that I am an adult, I know how Credit Unions, in particular U.S. Eagle, can help me and you achieve our financial goals.
5 reasons why you shouldn’t join a credit union:
  1. If you do not like saving money, RUN.
  2. If you do not like working with a local business that maintains a heavy community footprint, RUN.
  3. If you do not like walking into your financial institution where friendly faces greet you, RUN.
  4. If you like high interest rates and low returns on investments (dividends), RUN.
  5. Lastly, if you do not like having a say in the way your money is handled, RUN.

It’s a pretty simple concept – Credit Unions really do rock.

Typically, a savings account and checking account at almost every Credit Union is free. That’s right – free. Once you open a savings account, you’re now officially a member. I like to think of Credit Unions as clubs. You’re a member of a club where your voice is heard and you decide how things go – you’re the boss. Depending on where you are employed or what organizations you are involved in will determine whether or not you can join a Credit Union. Fortunately at U.S. Eagle, everyone can join! Oh, and did I mention our savings accounts and checking accounts are free?
One of my absolute favorite things about U.S. Eagle is our huge community footprint. I have worked here for nearly a year and I am still discovering different organizations we support. The best part? Employees have the opportunity to contribute their time to charitable organizations. For example, U.S. Eagle has signups for employees to volunteer their time at Rio Grande Food Project, Casa Esperanza, and Meals on Wheels. We also have a whole committee dedicated to community involvement called, “Community Involvement Committee”. The purpose of this committee is to plan different fundraising events, discover organizations to sponsor, and assist with community service related projects.

I can think of some pretty important relationships I have made throughout my young life. One relationship that I have found essential is a good relationship with the individual who handles my money. When I started working at U.S. Eagle, I visited different branches to acclimate myself to the company. Staff that had helped with my finances at some point throughout my U.S. Eagle membership still remembered me! U.S. Eagle employees do their best to help you succeed financially. You will always find a friendly face more than willing to assist you.

Credit Unions are not-for-profit. This means that we do not operate with the intention of bringing in the dough. We return what profit we do make to our members through low interest rates on loans and credit cards, and higher returns on your investments. Score!

Guess what? We have some good news! Once you’re a member at U.S. Eagle you call the shots. How?
  1. Volunteer and be elected to our Board of Directors
  2. Attend our Annual Meeting and have your voice heard

Our Board of Directors work on a volunteer-basis. They are not compensated for their time and dedication to the Credit Union. They have monthly meetings where they discuss the state of the Credit Union and how we as a Credit Union can exceed our members expectations.  Once a year, we hold an Annual Meeting and invite all our members. This meeting is intended to address the questions and concerns of our members.

So why hasn’t everyone joined a Credit Union? Good question. Maybe people like paying fees and watching the banks profit. Plus, a lot of people don’t know just how great a Credit Union can be. Truth is that we aren’t just great, we rock.